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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  January 5, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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tavis: evening from los angeles. today we talk to natalie cole. she is out with the new book called "love brought me back. she is headlining a special concert at los angeles disney hall. >> all i know is his name is james and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all lives better. >> nationwide supports tavis
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smiley. we are proud to help remove economic illiteracy. nationwide is on your side. >> and from contributions from viewers like you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute >> always pleased to welcome natalie cole. she has been performing since she was a baby. natalie debuts at disney hall. she is out with a new book
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about the defense of the last few years including a kidney transplant -- the events of the last few years, including a kidney transplant and the death of her sister. it is nice to see you. >> thank you. tavis: chris started playing really hard when you left. you look great as you always do. when you were here last time, i recall saying to myself, i hope i get a chance to see you. i am thrilled. >> i would say gods still has some stuff for me to do. i did not know i was that close. >> how close were you? >> maybe 8%. my kidney function have less
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than 8% left. that is how close. tavis: first of all, the title. i love me some d j rogers, and one of my favorite songs is "love brought me back." >> i was in new york, and i heard that, and i thought, that is the title of my book. it makes sense. when you look back at certain things, you can ask yourself how do i get through this. players got me through this. >> you did a cover, "say you
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love me." that is a beautiful song. >> i ran into debt and sell. -- denzel. tavis: if i show of december 8 and you do not sing it, i am going to think he is more important than i am. >> nosair. >> it is a great song. it was not that long after that you went into dialysis. how did you wind up with a kidney? >> it is a long list, especially in big cities, and my son was
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not a match. we got a call. i was with my sister when the call came to say they did find a perfect match and that the kidney was specifically designated for natalie cole, so the hospital kind of flipped out. how did i get to the top of the list all of a sudden? a woman had taken care of me for one day after a hospital. i was there for an in and out procedure, and she saw me on "larry king" along with her niece, whose kidney i ended up getting because the girl passed away, and she remembered, and she said, i would ask if they would consider donating my niece cause kidney.
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-- niece's kidney. tavis: before we get to the kidney and the phone call about the kidney, and you mention one of your sisters. the sister you are speaking of is no longer with us. you were not just with her. >> she was in the hospital. now that i realize, she was sick for a while. it turned out she was fighting lung cancer. she started to show physical symptoms. her skin started to change.
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i got a call, and it was mother's day. i am thinking, she did not feel good. we went to the doctor, and he said it was very serious. i knew she would not do it, because she was catholic. she ended up having another crash. i get a phone call from my son from the other hospital. >> you are with your sister who is dying, when you get a phone call but there is a kidney specifically for you to save your life. how do you process that? your sister is dying, but you got a kidney. do they give you a time frame? >> 2 hours.
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tavis: how do you process that? >> actually, there were two phone calls. the first phone call came in around 1:00 in the morning when i was at the hospital. i went home, because i had been there, to try to get a little sleep. they said, come back. i went back to the hospital. the other hospital called again, and they said, we need to get you at 6:30. by then there were about 25 people in the room. no one was able to hear anything. i called my business manager. i needed somebody who has different kind of focus. he was one of the people who was not there. i looked him up and said, what should i do?
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he said, go for it. you have got to go for it. tavis: cookie passed away when? >> she actually passed away four and a half hours after i left her. >> your family knew before you went into surgery that she had passed, because they did not want you to go into surgery thinking about her, and you find out after you came out. how do you process that? you have a kidney, but on the other side of the successful surgery, you learn your sister has passed. >> degrees -- the feeling of the motions is so powerful that it takes days to really put
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everything into some kind of perspective. i know that dogs hand has been in my life always, but not -- god's hand has been in my life always, but this was so extraordinary. i had to keep praying that he knew best, that this was going to happen for a reason, but you have to remember that two people were gone -- the young woman whose kidney i have, as well as my sister, so two lives are done, so that is a process. why me? tavis: the does make you feel guilty? or has at least.
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>> yes, i had never experienced anything like this before. i could not figure it out. i had a tough time with it. >> the way the system works, you cannot buy these kittens -- kidneys. when someone famous like natalie cole is down the list and jumps to the top, it would cause some alarm as to how she jumped. tell me about how they told you they specifically donated a kidney to you. >> probably because the woman who made the request was a nurse. i had been her patient for a day, and the facility that
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facilitates organ transplants is called one legacy. they came to the house not long after jessica past, and i happened -- she happened to be there the day they came, and they said they knew she was a donor. the whole family was a donor, and she said, i would like to put in my 2 cents. since she is a donor, i would like you to consider giving her. wasurns out, jessica's mom with me.
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tavis: did you send a care package of natalie cole records? all this, in jessica's belongings is "unforgettable." >> wow. >> i was blown away is so crazy. >> some call it six degrees of separation. some call it god, but do you recall having been served by this nurse? >> i remember her. she was laughing, and because my girlfriend was with me and we ordered french fries and grilled cheese sandwiches, i am on
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dialysis, so you can eat. i do recall it. i did recall her, so i realized the way it came, she was minors for five hours carrier -- of t. she knew who i was, and she could have been a diva. you never know who is watching her. if i had been another kind of person, she would have said, let her get her own kidney. >> having a bad day, which you were. >> she remembered me as being lovely, and her aunt jessica were watching larry king together when she said, i really wish we could help her get a
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kidney. >> you raised issue in the book. it is a bit of a toxic question to ask, and because you reference it in the book, you believe it was brought on by your drinking back in the day. that is most likely the way you contract hepatitis c, so how does it make you feel that because of your own this behavior, you end upturn contracting this, and a kidney that could've gone to someone else could read it when to you during your -- went to you. >> i am accountable for that.
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it is extraordinary it stayed in my body for that long. the truth is that i should have been dead. i think once you get sober and you are in a program that teaches yourself not to beat yourself up too much about the kinds of things you are -- you have caused, mostly to yourself, even though it causes a lot of people a lot of pain, but there is almost -- only so much you can take, and just the fact that i survived it still lets me know that god saw something redeeming in me despite of myself. >> a whole bunch of us in that category.
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i want to get your response to did, but the flip side isn' god often blesses those of us who have platforms to share what we know. you have the chance to travel around the world and talk about organ donation, and there is so much food. >> everything i have been through, it is important for me to share it, because my life is public in terms of what i'd do, but i am really not a big personality.
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so many things have happened. way too many things, and things that for another person would have been too much. i am stronger than i thought i was. i am really wives and strong. -- wise and strong. i am good at sharing. >> i hear you on my ipod every day. i have not heard you live in a little bit. i raise this to ask what all this has done.
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>> not 1 ounce has been touched. the gift is still there. i am shocked. that was my first time at the hollywood bowl, back on stage. >> nice dress. >> it was a beautiful dress, but i was so nervous. >> this was intense. i could not believe i was alive and whole, and everything was perfect. when i stepped out on the stage and my voice -- i was like, thank you, god.
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it really is a gift. >> how do you describe what it feels like? you walked out on stage, and the audience must have gone crazy. how do you describe what you felt from the audience when you walked out? >> so much care, so much love, to feel that from a crowd of people reaching most of them are strangers, but the majority of people do not know me, and they pull out this -- go for it. , and it is anyou
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amazing feeling to go out there and hear that from the audience. first, they love what you do, and when you come back, it is devastating. >> this is a silly question. what role did match have been in this -- did your dad have in this? what was seen saying to you? >> my father led by example. he did not do a lot of talking about world politics. that was his way of communicating.
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i sing had he been here, he would not have left my side. he would have been running back and forth, and it would have been tough on him. >> your father died when you were 15, so you could do it a whole lot longer. >> i am glad you asked that question. i was surprised at how deeply i grieved. even more so than my dad. it is still going on. we had 50 something years
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together. we had great years. great movies, great poetry. she just had so much to do with the woman i became. >> i know you would not wish it on anybody, maybe not even your worst enemy. >> not even my worst enemy. although -- wait a minute. [laughter] tavis: that said, what is the
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abiding circumstance you take away for having been so close to it? >> it is very trite, but when people say to try to make every day count, it is so serious, and it is hard to do that common -- hard to do that, because you get caught up in living, but sometimes it is not about you. even though this happened to me and i went through a lot, sometimes i felt the struggle was not about me. it was about showing what it is like to be used. i felt like i was being used,
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and i wanted to get out of this. >> like any gain natalie or like any good evening nat king cole lyric, it was not corning. the new book is called "love brought me back." if you are in l.a. on december 8 and you can get a ticket, ms. cole will be debuting at disney hall >> thank you very much. >> for >> join us next time for gary hart on how the democrats can get back on top.
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>> all i know is his name is james and he needs extra help on his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all lived better. >> nationwide supports tavis smiley. we are working to ensure economic literacy. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions from viewers like you. thank you.
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